Council’s efforts on dog fouling continue, but more to be done

Parents and children who are concerned about dog mess near to Wooler First School.

Parents and children who are concerned about dog mess near to Wooler First School.

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The county council says that its zero-tolerance approach on dog fouling is beginning to bear fruit, but more needs to be done.

A report on Dog Fouling – Enforcement And Future Initiatives was first presented to Northumberland County Council’s communities and place scrutiny committee in November last year.

It stated that dog mess ‘continues to be a major issue of public concern with complaints increasing steadily across the last three years’.

The report referred to some success through the adoption of a joint education and enforcement approach of zero tolerance, but added: “Notwithstanding this success, dog fouling remains a difficult issue to tackle comprehensively.

“Although there is general widespread compliance among dog owners, there remains a stubborn hardcore minority who continue to cause significant problems in some areas.”

An update was provided to the committee earlier this week, which featured details of the fixed penalty notices issued in 2014.

A total of 115 were issued across Northumberland, with the majority in the south-east of the county.

Notices issued in other areas included one in Alnmouth/Beadnell, seven in Alnwick, two in Amble, two in Berwick, six in Druridge Bay/Hadston, four in Morpeth and five in Widdrington Station.

The report emphasises that the local authority’s enforcement results are second only to Durham in the North East.

It says that while enforcement levels in most of the neighbouring authorities are going down, in Northumberland they have increased.

In other efforts, staff have been provided with appropriate training while the council has joined the Keep Britain Tidy We’re Watching You campaign which will launch in March.

How the scourge is being tackled

Penalties: Offenders can be given a £75 fixed-penalty notice. If they refuse to pay, they can be prosecuted and face a court appearance with a maximum penalty of £1,000. Claiming ignorance of the dog’s actions is not a valid defence. Officers can also recommend that offenders are prosecuted if they become aggressive, refuse to give details, are a repeat offender or if the offence is more serious due to the location.

How to report dog fouling: Complain and report dog fouling on 0845 600 6400 or visit the county council’s website and click on ‘report dog fouling’.